Booster Covid-19 vaccinations have been authorised for healthcare workers.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly tweeted news of the development on Monday evening, saying the doses will start to be administered this weekend.
Mr Donnelly confirmed he made the move after receiving advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).
He said NIAC has advised that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be used regardless of the initial vaccine course.
I have just authorised the use of booster vaccines for healthcare workers.
This evening I received advice from NIAC. Some time back I asked the HSE to prepare for such a programme and have now asked the HSE to roll this out.
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) November 1, 2021
Earlier, there were calls from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) for healthcare workers to receive a booster amid rising case numbers and growing pressures on hospitals.
About 3,500 healthcare workers are believed to be off work due to a Covid-related illness.
Phil Ni Sheaghdha, general secretary of the INMO, said on Monday it appeared that healthcare workers were picking up the virus in hospitals.
“We need to ensure that the vaccine booster is provided so that we have the maximum protection,” she said on RTE radio.
A further 2,855 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Monday.
As of 8am, there were 515 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 91 were in intensive care.
We are conducting planned, essential updates to our vaccination & computing software today. Our #COVIDVaccine centres are closed, and you will not be able to register for your vaccine as we carry out these updates. Services will resume fully tomorrow. Thank you for your patience. pic.twitter.com/L58z6eCgSO
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) November 1, 2021
The Government has said it will listen to any recommendation from NIAC on the extension of the booster programme.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said thousands of people are continuing to come forward for a coronavirus jab.
Mr Reid said on Twitter that, over the past six days, almost 15,000 people have come forward for vaccination.
“It is never too late,” he said.
Vaccination centres were closed on Monday as the HSE carried out updates to its Covid-19 information system.
In a statement on Monday, the HSE said the “essential” update to the Covax system will “provide increased capability to support our vaccination booster programme”.
Positively, we continue to see a steady number of people come forward for vaccination. Over the past 6 days almost 15,000 people have come to a Vaccination Centre via an appointment or walk in. Almost 7,000 via walk in. Avg 1,800 registering per day. Its never too late. @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) November 1, 2021
People were not able to register for a vaccination online or by phone on Monday, but GP and pharmacy vaccinations are unaffected by the update.
On Monday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government has made a major investment in the health service to protect hospitals.
“We’ve already put in place a significant amount of investment to help our health service cope at a time of challenge,” he told RTE radio.
“We do acknowledge that challenge is growing, and that is why we’re making, I believe, sensible decisions and the right decisions in how we can manage Covid and how we can allow our economy to also safely stay open.”